Speed matters to business. Speed means being first to market. Speed means competitive advantage. Speed means being agile.
The trouble is data is often the greatest obstacle to speed. Applications are slow to market because of delays, often because of test data. Analytics are inaccurate because data is stale or incomplete. Even data-centre or cloud-migration projects can be slow because of data issues. Of course, since data changes constantly, it can be out of date as soon as it arrives. With numerous projects on the go, it’s easy to see how schedules spin out of control. For IT management, making data light and fast can have major impacts on project schedules and project success.
Slow data is a curse. According to a CIO Magazine study, the average Fortune 1000 chief information officer manages more than 40 application projects a year, with the majority running behind schedule. A lack of access to fresh data is the number-one culprit. An international investment bank reported that the time it took to create an environment for one project took six months. Another organisation was spending half a day building an environment for just two minutes of testing. There has to be a better way.
SO WHAT’S THE ANSWER?
Fast data means the users – analysts, developers, testers and auditors – have direct access to the data they need in moments. Often the data that is needed is not necessarily the most current; a test engineer might require a version of a database as of some point in the past, to verify why a problem occurred and to confirm the fix. Getting the right data, at the right time is more challenging than it first appears. However, a solution exists, and it transforms data from something that is heavy, slow and cumbersome to a weapon that enables business agility.
HOW IS THE POSSIBLE?
It comes from a revolutionary new technology from Delphix. Their software virtualises all enterprise data and then allows a user with a self-service interface to copy databases and applications in minutes. They can refresh, reset, bookmark and branch data without ever contacting a system, storage, network or database administrator. The virtual data only takes a tiny amount of space and behaves like a separate, fully functional environment.
The impact on projects is sensational – data virtualisation typically halves project cycle times
The impact on projects is sensational – data virtualisation typically halves project cycle times. At first this means application development projects are completed more quickly and with fewer errors, but the benefits run deeper. Agile development practices can finally take off, unconstrained by slow data. Previously unachievable transformation projects become within reach. The promise of big data can start to be realised. And developers can do what they do best, creating and innovating, knowing that they’ll still hit their deadlines with time to spare.
By contrast, a slow data culture is cautious, risk averse and saps morale with painfully long development cycles.
Curiously, data virtualisation is fast becoming an accepted technology at the world’s most data-competent firms, but is still yet to be considered standard practice across the business world. Testimonials from users ought to change that. Delphix has helped the likes of Cisco, Wal-Mart, Gap, P&G, RBS, Deutsche Bank and eBay. Some customers even found new uses of the technology, like Facebook who reported using Delphix to reduce their financial close from three weeks to two days. Comcast use the live-archive feature to rollback in minutes when systems go down.
London-based spread betting firm City Index placed fast data at the heart of its agile strategy. Its 30 developers are now able to access database copies in three minutes rather than four hours. Project times are way, way down. An archiving project took six weeks rather than the six months under the old system. Development cycles dropped by 75 per cent on average, with 20 per cent more applications delivered to the business.
Following President Obama’s healthcare reforms, Molina Healthcare doubled in members and staff. During this massive growth, by virtualising their data they actually reduced storage by 900 terabytes, saving $10 million in storage costs. The IT infrastructure team needed no new heads and with the productivity gains, the developers could embark on a range of innovative products and services.
Improvements such as these are more than mere convenience. By embracing fast data, businesses can transform from defensive, passive players into agile performers. Fast data means you are able to do more with less and, by reducing inefficiencies, you are able to free your team to spend more time modernising your business.
It is often said that the advantage big businesses has over smaller, more nimble competitors is their customer data. Tying this to the deadweight of a manual process is absurd. To embrace the speed of virtual data removes the biggest constraint to being agile. Agility and speed have the potential to transform IT’s value to the business.
For more information there is an IDC report available, entitled The Total Cost of Data, via a link on the home page of www.delphix.com. For a more in-depth conversation on how Delphix can accelerate your modernisation initiatives, email email@example.com